The Ward 6 Redistrict Taskforce held their first meeting Feb. 1 on Zoom. Appointed by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D), the taskforce is charged with drawing boundaries for the ward’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANCs) and constituent Single Member Districts (SMDs) based on the 2020 US Census results.
“Never before in the history of the District has a single ward lost 20,000 people in redistricting,” Allen observed at the start of the meeting. “This is an opportunity to bring the ward together,” he added.
The ward boundaries were established by the DC Council last December. Subsequently, each councilmember is charged with appointing a redistricting taskforce to redraw the ANC and SMD boundaries.
Allen appointed Scott Price, Marge Maceda, Ken Jarboe, Iris Bond Gil, Sheila White, Gottlieb Simon, Anna Forgie, Mathew Oberstaedt, Gary Peterson, Brian Pate, Georgine Wallace and Christine Spencer to the taskforce. He selected Ivan Frishberg to chair the effort. More members may be added, stated Allen.
No sitting commissioner had been appointed, Allen stated, and all taskforce members had agreed not to run in the 2022 election prior to appointment. Both these measures were taken to avoid any conflict of interest.
SMD populations by law must range between 1,800 and 2,200, Allen stated.
There proved to be a general consensus among taskforce members on several issues. All agreed on ANCs being established with an odd number of commissioners to avoid deadlocks. The total number of SMDs in a commission should be limited to nine to avoid endless meetings, stated Price. Taskforce members also saw the utility of avoiding any splitting of census tracks. Lastly, they agreed to try and make minimal adjustments to the boundaries of the existing commissions if possible. The real issue would be SMD boundaries, several observed.
After some discussion, both Allen and taskforce members generally dismissed the idea of establishing commissions across ward boundaries. None of his colleagues had shown any interested, stated Allen. It would be unlikely in the absence of their support, he said. The tight timeline makes such explorations impossible, stated Frishberg.
At the suggestion of Frishberg, taskforce members divided themselves into working groups, each focused on a particular existing commission.
The taskforce’s timetable is aggressive. Frishberg pledged to provide members with an initial draft map. Their next meeting to discuss these is scheduled for Feb. 15. On Feb. 22, the taskforce will hold a full public hearing. On, March 1, they will meet to finalize the map to reflect public feedback. That map will be submitted to the DC Office of Planning for validation. The taskforce’s objective to have a final map and report ready to file by March 15. Details of the schedule will be posted on www.charlesallenward6.com.
Ward 6 residents may try their hand at fashioning their own solutions to redistricting at https//dcredistricting.erisemcs.com/redistricting/. Frishberg pledged to consider all maps files there. Residents can email the taskforce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the task forces have sent their recommendations to the Council, the Subcommittee on Redistricting will hold at least nine hearings on the new ANC boundaries, one for every ward and one for the full city. Following these hearings, the Subcommittee will prepare its proposed revised boundaries, to be voted on by the full Council by June 2022, prior to the Primary Elections.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Joy Phillips was a member of the taskforce.